Sermon Illustrations

Jennifer M. Ginn shares a similar experience, in her article “Living by the Word,” published in Christian Century [February, 2004]. She begins by quoting the words of a song that was popular when she was at camp.

“I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, No turning back, no turning back.”

Ginn goes on state, “When my friends and I sang this song at church camp, we sang serenely, often teary-eyed, seated on the ground with the cross – illumined by candlelight in front of us. In those emotional moments, I imagined myself to be standing firm in the Lord as the Philippians were urged to do by Paul, who reminds them, ‘Our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.’

In those moments, I was determined to set my face toward him. But my single-mindedness never lasted. It was mostly the lure of gossip or boys that sidetracked my determination then. I stopped so often along the way of following, that I lost my way. Occasional flashbacks to those times and to the words of that song turned my attention to Jesus, but I have moved in fits and starts through adolescence and adulthood – sometimes toward, and often away from, singleness of purpose…” End quote.

Jennifer Ginn concluded her article, quoting another verse from that camp song she came to love, which truly exemplifies our Lord’s commitment to following his Father’s will. “The cross before me, the world behind me, The cross before me, the world behind me, The cross before me, the world behind me, No turning back, no turning back.”

Then she states, “Lent challenges us to try.” [To earnestly desire to live in communion with God as we might have experienced at camp.] But I know that even in Lent, I won’t be able to walk straight toward the cross. I’ve tried before. Only Christ could do that. As he gathered so many on his journey toward Jerusalem that first time, maybe he’ll catch me along the way too: to heal, to teach, or just to sit for a while. That hope strengthens my resolve to focus on the cross, lest I miss his reaching.” End quote.

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